I went yesterday to get an electric blanket (I was sleeping in full sweatsuit under four blankets and was still freezing). I got the blanket I wanted, at half-price (and a pair of boots I needed badly, reduced from $129 to $30), but the big surprise was when I got to the register and pulled out my previously unused Sears card. They asked me if I wanted to upgrade to a Sears MasterCard, as it would give me even more of a discount on the blanket. Since I don’t use credit cards as a rule (and had only been planning to use the Sears card this once, and to pay it off from my next paycheck), I bit.
Well, they not only approved me, but gave me a $6,000 credit limit! I didn’t use the “shopping pass” for anything else, and the card will go into my wallet where it will stay unused except for once a year, to keep it active. Next year, I will probably close out the original card. But since part of your FICO score is your outstanding credit balances/your total credit limit, this should improve my FICO score a nice bit.
What felt nicer, though, was the cashier’s freaking out over how much credit I was being offered. We then had a discussion of how I had managed to become debt-free, and she told me she was using one of those debt consolidation services. I told her that she would have to really stay on top of them to make sure her payments were getting to her creditors, and she almost started crying. Seems she had signed up with them in November, and has not yet seen any results. I suggested that she call her actual creditors and see if they had been contacted by the service and if any payments had been sent by the service. And I suggested she call the service and demand to see records of any disbursements they have made. And call her bank to ascertain that the service has received and cashed her checks. She asked how I managed to do it without using one of those services, and I told her the steps I took and in what order I took them.
It was hard to see her fear, but the look on her face when I told her how I managed to do it without one of those services, and when Marc, who was with me, backed me up on what I told her (he’s lived through far more of this recovery than anyone other than me should have had to) was so totally worth it.
It’s interesting to have come from being so far behind I thought I would never come up for air to be in a place where my story, even though I’m still not completely free, gives hope to someone else. (And, just for the record, I will not consider myself completely free until I have the following: no debts [except maybe a mortgage], not even my student loans; a one-year emergency fund; a fully-funded Roth IRA, a savings account for non-emergency purchases, and my documents in order for when I pass on.)
Still, even though I have a long way to go, I have clearly come a long way!